A Tribute To Unit…As We Cope With a Loss Of a Dear Friend…

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To call him a dog hardly seems to do him justice, though inasmuch as he had four legs, a tail, and barked, I admit he was, to all outward appearances. But to those who knew him well, he was a perfect gentleman.

Hermione Gingold

I always say to people: There is nothing natural or normal about a bulldog. They are freaks of the dog world. Totally man made.

They can only be conceived artificially.

Over 80% can only be born by C section (Because of the size of bulldog puppies heads birth can be fatal the mothers).

They walk funny. They sound funny. There really is nothing normal about them. With their giant paws and powerful stance, they resemble more of a Gargoyle than a dog, and I say that with love of course.

This post is the story about the life of my British Bulldog Unit who sadly recently passed away. This is my tribute to a dear friend.

On August 12th 2008 a litter of 4 Bulldogs was born on a farm in country New Zealand. One of these puppies would soon become a big part of my family, and an 8 year friendship would begin

After only seeing one photo of a tiny little 1 week old fuzz ball via email, It was love at first sight. Having missed out on a number of Bulldog pups, I didn’t want to miss snapping this little guy up. 

He was the biggest puppy of the bunch. His official name on his papers was, Gotabull “The Unit”. 6 Weeks later he was on a flight to Australia, then within hours he had reached Adelaide airport quarantine and was waiting for my arrival.

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The whole concept of a puppy catching a plane made me very anxious. I spent the day worrying myself sick thinking that he would end up in another state or get stuck in quarantine over the weekend.

I rushed to the quarantine office as soon as the papers were cleared. When I got there I could hear him yelping for his mum. Some of the office staff had pulled him out of his transport cage and were holding him saying “awwwwwww”

I signed the papers and he was mine. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.

When I brought him home to meet my other dog Bear (RIP), Bear walked right up to Unit and immediately started to drool all over him and lick/bath him. I think it was Bears way of initiating him to the family.

From that day on they were best friends. They even shared the same bed. That waas until Unit grew bigger, and bigger and one day poor old Bear couldn’t fit any more.

I think Bear aged a few years when Unit entered the household. Unit would constantly chase old Bear around the house and giving him hell.

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Over the years Unit became a celebrity amongst my family and friends

With his big head and little legs, he would make everyone smile wherever he went. A stroll on a crowded street was always interupted by people in awe of Unit everywhere he went.

I was so use to him I guess. He would even often have people stopping and asking to take photos with him.

One of the things that always turned heads was the noise he made. Checkout the video below:

This was a mild purr compared to when he was excited or worked up 

You see, Bulldogs belong to a group of dogs know as “brachiocephalic” breeds or “short-nosed” breeds.

Since dogs do not sweat to cool themselves as people do they rely on panting to help expel excess heat. The short nosed breeds cooling mechanism and air transfer is much less effective than other breeds making them very prone to over heating.

When he was on walks, he heats up, when he heats up his trachea will get more narrow. This is when he would start to make a huge grunting sound like a grizzly bear or something that resembles a chainsaw.

Anyone walking a dog in the opposite direction on the foot path would cross the road when they could see (or hear rather) Unit coming.

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A Gentleman and a Scollar

Putting aside his rough beastly exterior, Unit would never hurt a fly. Unit was never concerned with other dogs. He was a people dog. In fact he ignored other dogs completely. I can never remember him ever barking at another dog.

He was just happy to be by your side constantly and would never grow tired of being close to his owner and had the traits of a champion Bulldog.

“He was equable and kind, resolute, and courageous. He was not vicious or aggressive. He had a friendly, patient nature.  

I understood that the shocking thing about unit was the sheer size of him. He was huge for a Bulldog. Standard male bulldogs usually will reach 25-27kgs. Unit was 35kgs in his prime.

Mr Personality

I concluded that what bulldogs lack in smarts, they certainly made up in personality. Everyone who knew him could easily see this dog had charisma to boot.

If I had to sum it up in one photo, it would be this one below. The pic below is a bottle of chew deterrent that my mum used to try and stop unit from chewing the garden hose. Here is what he thought of that:

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Parting Ways

There came a time in my life when I needed to travel for long periods of time, so Unit resided at my mother’s house where he would get the love and care he needed. 

My mother has lived the single life for 30 years, and she was a little reluctant at first to welcome a new man into the house. I explained to her that this was not an ordinary Dog. He has serious personality. 

It was a while before she understood what I meant but over the years, Unit became my mother’s life partner. They were inseparable. 

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She loved him so much she let him sleep in her bed. I know this is very common, but Unit’s snoring can be heard from the opposite end of the house. No one could understand how she did it.

I guess that’s real love.

Not to mention how Unit would turn my mothers bedroom into a gas chamber nightly with his relentless passing of wind.

That’s commitment.

Reunited

When I returned to Australia to start Pet Snacks, I couldn’t take Unit back from her. He was a big part of my mums life now and I could see that.

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Bulldogs are recognized as excellent family pets because of their tendency to form strong bonds with children.

Generally, Bulldogs are known for getting along well with children, other dogs, and pets. They can become so attached to home and family, that they will not venture out of the yard without a human companion.

Bulldogs are more likely to sleep on someone’s lap than chase a ball around the yard

I knew the day Unit met my Son Junior would be a great day. Even though Unit was huge compared to my son, he was not intimidated at all and they instantly bonded. Junior would climb all over unit and they would play together beautifully.

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Unit would gracefully run around with my son without bowling him over almost like he know he was a child.

At the time of meeting, my son was just learning his first words. When we would visit my mother we would tell him we are going to see Nanny.

As Unit was first to greet us when we arrived, my son assumed Nanny was the name of the dog. So to my son Unit was Nanny. Even to this day when he sees a photo of Unit he says NANNY.

Crossing Rainbow Bridge

The week before Units passing my mum called me and said that Unit was looking a bit off. He wasn’t snoring as much as usual and he had gone off his food.

It’s not the first time he has gone off his food, so we thought we would leave it a day or 2 and if he is still the same then would would have to take him to the vet.  

The following day my mum picked up his lead and said “wannagowalkies” and unit jumped up and bounced around excitedly.

They began to walk and about half way into his walk it was clear that something was wrong.

My mum turned back and started heading home. On the way home unit slowed right down, and then suddenly stopped.

He turned his head and looked up at my mum with is big human like eyes, and suddenly collapsed. My mum ran to the neighbours (who is a nurse) and they both rushed to his side, but he was gone.

Unit died on Friday 16th August, of heart failure which is the leading cause of death of Bulldogs. 

My mother phone called me to let me know. When I answered the phone I knew in the sound of her voice something was wrong. 

I couldn’t believe it. I immediately dropped what I was doing and rushed to her house to see him one last time

I said my last goodbyes to unit on Friday. It’s such a sad thing to happen, I am still a little shocked and lost for words to explain their feelings I have.

As I struggle to recollect our last meeting: “did I pat him and kiss him like I usually do on our last encounter?” Could I have done something differently? If we had gotten him to the vet sooner would he still be here? I’m trying to find any reason to make sense of it all. 

In the end. I do find comfort in knowing that he went peacefully. He had a great life, and was loved by many.

Final Message and Words to Unit

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I don’t know what we will do without you boy. I wish I knew our time was going to be cut this short. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you more. Thank you for filling my life with so much happiness, laughs, and good times. You were truly unique and my loyal friend. 

Goodbye my friend.

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If you would like to give Unit a fair well, please comment on this Facebook post, my Mum would love it. Thank you all.

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